Civil society organisations in Rwanda will monitor how government implemented regional and international treaties to which it is signatory in the past six years, The New Times has established.
Under the initiative of FACT-RWANDA, a local Non-Governmental Organisation against torture and violence, over twenty independent groups yesterday launched the project at Romalo Guest House in Gasabo District.
They will monitor how government honoured its commitments in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights (ICESCR), and the International convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
“We know very well that there are many things that government is doing to promote human rights. If government prepares its reports on those initiatives, the civil society also needs to report so that nothing is left out,” said Dr. Charles Ntare, the Executive Secretary of FACT-RWANDA.
The government recently formed a taskforce under the National Human Rights Commission to assess the implementation of the three treaties and provide a report to the International Commission of Human Rights this year.
However, civil society wants to merge their findings with those of the government to come up with a more objective report, FACT-Rwanda says.
“There is always a better way between government and civil society organisations to complement each other to come up with a comprehensive picture of human rights,” Herbert Rubasha, a human rights specialist who was training activists on human rights reporting said yesterday.
The project which is supported by the British Embassy will have human rights activists from different independent organisations in the country trained on how to gather information on human rights and report to both the United Nations and the African Union.
While government is currently busy assessing how it implemented treaties it ratified, Ntare said that civil society organisations working on the same initiative will have already submitted their findings to the government’s team in two months.
“It is our responsibility and role as the civil society to be accountable to the society and ensure that we act as watchdogs to the government,” he said.
According to Ntare, this project will help independent human rights activists gain skills, legitimacy and experience in monitoring treaty implementation.
He said that they will be able to present their independent alternative reports directly to the International Human Rights Commission and other bodies in the future through a permanent civil society monitoring body that is soon to be formed.